Unconscious bias training

The big challenge

Unconscious bias training is a part of equality, diversity and inclusion training. This type of training is a difficult thing to get right and implement successfully throughout any organisation. It’s a process which takes time, numerous steps and structural change.

Unconscious bias training will help a company who’s ambition is to have an inclusive culture. However, becoming inclusive is a culture change which takes time and dedication. Alongside raising consciousness around implicit bias the conscious bias needs to be addressed with employees and the structural bias prevalent in many organisations will need to be challenged.

“If you want to change an organisation you need to tackle conscious bias, unconscious bias and structural bias. If you don’t tackle all three then the status quo will just reset itself” Tinu Cornish – diversity and inclusion specialist.

The challenge

Only focusing on implicit bias, we set ourselves the task to create an unconscious bias course that would raise awareness of the topic and challenge biased behaviours and ways of thinking.

The main challenge we found with bias training is how to tackle this controversial, challenging subject matter in a neutral and sensitive way. Having previously created equality, diversity and inclusion training for our clients, we were able to draw on this experience when considering how to approach the topic in the best way.

We drew from the Equality Act 2010, that defines nine protected characteristics in people. It is unlawful to discriminate against someone at work based on one of these characteristics. We wanted our course to expand on this, and emphasise the proven benefits of a diverse team, which shows the learner that diversity brings with it a greater range of skills, knowledge and viewpoints.

The approach

A lot of thought and research went into the design and layout of the course.

This training is not assessment based, instead we built this course with the learner’s self-reflection in mind. Unconscious bias is a natural part of life and human behaviour, and so our approach reflects this with the view to change behaviour or held biases without being accusatory and without judgement.

To do this, we set up the course in two parts. The first part introduces the topic, using animation to explain the complex concept that is unconscious bias. We then ask learners to answer some quick-fire questions to mimic the way in which we all make rapid judgements about people.

For the second part the learner can apply all the concepts and ideas outlined in part one in a scenario-based learning activity. In this situation the learner is tasked with recruiting for a new job. However, with only appearance and voice to go by learners are given the chance to examine their unconscious biases – and so, at the very least, become more aware of the effect unconscious bias can have on their decision making.

We relied on HD video and powerful images of people to generate realistic reactions from learners. Both video and  animation played a large part in this course and in another unconscious bias course we built – click here to find out more.

This courses unique aspect is its abstract style, and its clean and simple user interface. Abstract shapes for animations, real video imagery, and minimal navigation lead the way for the learning. This fluid piece represents how we shouldn’t be defined by rigid physical characteristics or social groups.

The use of the ‘invisible’ navigation is intuitive and maximises the space available on screen. We believe good design means you shouldn’t need to be told how to do something, good design just works.


The Results

Learners undoubtedly give the most honest responses when answers to questions aren’t tracked, allowing the learner to gain maximum benefit from the course. This unconscious bias course runs without an LMS, and tracks completions in a Google Docs spreadsheet.

We’re aware that bias will never be eliminated, but this course will help to expand awareness of it: the first step towards challenging our unconscious thoughts.

Why take diversity seriously?

At Fenturi, we are committed to challenging bias in the workplace and within the L&D industry. We know the benefits of being an inclusive company and push these morals in the conversations we have and in the content we create. Read more about how we actively fight bias in our blog about our Equal Realities round-table event.

TRAILER – unconscious bias training